In support of the long-time claims of many natural health advocates, a recent study strongly suggests that cancer is a man-made disease. The study was conducted at Manchester’s KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology, and it investigated remains and literature from ancient Egypt and Greece.
The study, published in the October issue of the journal Nature Reviews Cancer involved the examination of hundreds of Egyptian mummies and ancient literature. Only one case of the disease was discovered among the mummies, and there are few references to it in the literaryevidence.
Rosalie David, a researcher at England’s University of Manchester, said in a statement: “In industrialised societies, cancer is second only to cardiovascular disease as a cause of death. But in ancient times, it was extremely rare. There is nothing in the natural environment that can cause cancer. So it has to be a man-made disease, down to pollution and changes to our diet and lifestyle.”
David further discussed the importance of these findings, stating: “The history of this disorder has the potential to improve our understanding of disease prevention, aetiology, pathogenesis and treatment.” The term “aetiology” refers to the study of the causes of diseases, and “pathogenesis” refers to how a disease has developed.
The time period covered by the study involved “millennia”, David said, pointing out that “masses of data” were considered. This gives researchers a full overview of the effects of cancer in those time periods, allowing any ongoing study of the disease to have a significant historical perspective.
The only case of cancer discovered among the mummies was a case of rectal cancer in an unnamed mummy, which was an “ordinary person” who had lived during the Ptolemaic period (200 – 400 CE). This single discovery is the first ever histological diagnosis of Egyptian cancer and was carried out by Michael Zimmerman, a visiting professor at the KNH Centre.
The rarity of cancer in the mummies strongly suggests the disease was rare in that time period. Zimmerman stated that “cancer-causing factors are limited to societies affected by modern industrialization.” He further explained: “In an ancient society lacking surgical intervention, evidence of cancer should remain in all cases.”
The ancient literature that was examined does not contain references to cancer until the 17th century, with reports on distinctive tumors occurring only in the past 200 years. These later references include reports of scrotal cancer in chimney sweepers in 1775, nasal cancer in snuff users in 1761, and Hodgkin’s disease in 1832.
The page discussing this report on the LiveScience website embeds a reader poll, asking participants the question “Do you think cancer is primarily man-made?” About 20% have voted “No way”; over 34% said “No doubt”; and the remaining more than 45% chose the option “Maybe, but we need more research”. The poll was still collecting data as of this writing.